Péter Gergely just turned 22 and his unique covers are already loved in all corners of the world, his most watched video has six and a half million views. In an interview with szeretlekmagyarorszag.hu Péter talks about his feelings for music and his achievements.
Billions of guitar covers are uploaded to YouTube in a single day, most of them are good, yet they do not stand out for some or other reasons. Péter Gergely, a Hungarian young man, does not belong to this category. Instead of just singing along to the tunes, he experiments with the instrumental parts and provides creative visuals.
Four and a half years on YouTube, 100 videos and 451 thousand subscribers says a lot about quality and devotion.
Why the guitar?
I’ve always had a thing for guitars and music, so much, that I started learning to play the classical guitar when I was 9 years old at a music school, thus I was the first one in the family who learnt to play an instrument. However, since I didn’t really enjoy classical music and the last year of the music school coincided with the high school entrance exams, it was a bit hard to finish it, but I made it, luckily. Following this, I swapped the classical guitar for an electric one, teaching myself, this lasted for 3-4 years. In the past 4 years I’ve been focusing on acoustic/fingerstyle techniques, still as an autodidact.
Why this genre?
When it comes to the acoustic guitar, the first thing that comes to anyone’s mind is a bonfire, but I would like to show the world how much potential and opportunity there is in just one single guitar. I sort of am a band. Adding to this, the smooth acoustic sounds have always enchanted me, so I think I am finally ready to settle.
Do you have a role model?
There are at least three guitarists that I would say inspired me: Mike Dawes, Maneli Jamal and Calum Graham. My taste in music is quite colourful, I get inspiration from a lot of genres.
What was your first cover? What was the basis on which you decided to pursue this line of music?
Well, my first YouTube video was a cover of Maroon 5’s Payphone, played on an electric guitar. My first fingerstyle came a couple months later; it was a cover of the iconic Titanic soundtrack. It is very fond to me, so I did another cover of it this year. Choosing the next song is quite simple: I pay attention to my audience and their requests. Of course, only if I like the song myself, otherwise it would not be authentic.
How long does it take to “re-write” the instrumental parts?
It depends entirely on the given song, but it usually takes 20 to 60 minutes, and then I need a couple hours to actually learn it, then I record it. Still, there are some tricky songs, they need more practising.
Your videos are of high standard, how much time do you devote to them? Are you the screenwriter, director, film editor, or do you have some help?
My brother does the filming, the colour correction, he has a good eye for this, and I do the editing. The main idea is to establish a connection between the video and the song. It usually takes 30-60 minutes to shoot a video, the editing takes the same.
Do you have your own songs?
Yes, I do, but they are not public yet. I have four or five songs ready, mostly from 2014, there are others that I have not finished yet, and I have a lot of ideas for riffs. I’ve been meaning to make an EP, but I keep postponing it, I’m very critical of my compositions. But one of my resolutions for this year is to publish them.
What about singing?
I do sing, but mostly just among friends. I’m not that confident, but I try to work on this too.
How did you get to half a million subscribers?
Honestly, it’s still a bit hard to believe. I had 1000 subscribers by the end of my first year, two thousand by the second, and now, four and a half years later, I have 450 thousand subscribers. It was an exponential growth, so to say. There are some videos from time to time that bring a lot of attention, my most watched one is the “See You Again” cover, it had six and a half million views.
Did any of the artists give you feedback? Or do you know if they heard about your covers?
I’m only sure in one: The Chainsmokers really liked my “Closer” cover, it was nice to see their comment.
Do you give live concerts?
Rarely, and it usually involves the guitar company that sponsors me. I’ve been to Germany and Switzerland thanks to them. However, I had a couple gigs in Hungary, for example on the second OVS festival. I have some smaller gigs sometimes, but my main focus is YouTube.
Is this a hobby or does this bring any income? If the previous, then what do you do for a living?
It’s in a middle ground. I think of it more than a hobby because of the opportunities and the money, but this isn’t my main occupation. I did not want to risk it all, so I decided to major in psychology at the University of Debrecen. I enjoy it a lot and I can imagine myself having a job in the field. Of course, my dream is to make it as a musician, and fortunately, things are looking up in this prospect.
What do you think is the limit to popularity, technical knowledge or in any other fields?
My goal is to have one million subscribers, which is a lot, and it’s crazy to know that I’m already halfway there. I don’t think I have any limits regarding styles, there will always be songs that people love. This style that I represent is fairly unique, it’s not dependent on language, thus it is universal. I would like to gain more popularity at home, in Hungary, we’ll just have to wait and see. About knowledge? There is always room for improvement, this is a never-ending journey, and I think this is music’s greatest beauty.